Weather clears to make way for lumberjacks

Published 11:51 am Saturday, May 14, 2022

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Torrential rain and hail on the day before and the threat of rain the day of did not end up derailing the inaugural Lumberjack Festevent, which drew a crowd to downtown Franklin on Saturday, May 7, and effectively shared an important part of the city’s history.

Liz Burgess, with The Franklin Experience Inc., which put on the event, acknowledged the weather that came the night before and cold temperatures that cut the event short Saturday evening, but she said, “With all those extenuating circumstances, I think it was well attended for our very inaugural one.”

Also helping draw people to downtown Franklin and the festevent was the Franklin Cruise-in Kickoff, which organizer Mike Smith said drew around 100 vehicles at any point during its run, and the Franklin Farmers Market, which reportedly saw 1,200 people come through.

“We kind of all worked in conjunction with each other, which that’s what we’re all about, that’s why we do what we do so we can cooperatively work together,” Burgess said. “(It) made a big difference, I think, provided a wide range of things for people to see and do, so that was really nice.”

The Lumberjack Festevent was concentrated in a couple of key downtown locations, including Barrett’s Landing and the lot at the corner of South and South Main Street.

Burgess noted that when the Paul Bunyan LumberJack Show would go live, featuring ax throwing, chopping, sawing and log-rolling competitions, “you’d see a crowd there.”

“The lumberjack show was a big hit,” she said. “I think the chainsaw carver, people were amazed at that.”

There was also a station that allowed festevent attendees to get in on the ax-throwing action themselves, and Burgess noted seeing a line there to participate.

She was pleased that the Southampton Agriculture & Forestry Museum brought an old piece of lumber-related equipment to the festevent, extension agents were on hand talking about the importance of wood and what it provides for people, and the Department of Forestry was represented.

“We really want to embrace Franklin’s lumber history,” Burgess said. “Clyde Parker was there talking to people about the history, and that was really, really nice as well.”

The weather did result in a few cancellations of planned events, including the tug of war and the cornhole tournament.

Burgess said it also became bitterly cold Saturday evening, so though the festevent was originally intended to run until 10 p.m., organizers shut everything down at 8 p.m.

“It was just too cold to be out,” she said.

She said The Franklin Experience will be looking to do a second year of the Lumberjack Festevent and is open to suggestions on things to add or do differently.

“I don’t know exactly what direction we need to go, but we do want to build on what we already have started, and we do want to make sure we stick with the theme of the lumber industry in this community, because it’s an important piece of this community,” she said.

She praised the inaugural event’s sponsors, which included Franklin Lumber, Stihl through Walters Outdoor Power Equipment, and the city of Franklin.

Burgess said that helping her organize the event were Margaret Lewis, Brenda Peterson and Sandy Herek, fellow members of The Franklin Experience.